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Interviews / Founders / Operations

Balancing the Grind with Neil F. Dunne, Co-Founder & COO at Andrson

Neil F. Dunne is the co-founder & COO at Andrson, an industry-leading state of the art audio analysis company.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Sure! My background is in music and music technology. I started off in artist management and then set up my own music discovery platform, Andrson. Andrson is a music tech company that specialises in deep audio analysis.

The AI that Andrson has built breaks down audio files into over 600 features, which allows music industry execs to search for new music by sound. So, if you’re a music supervisor and are looking for someone who sounds at least 70% to Olivia Rodriguez, you can find songs that actually sound similar.

I’ve recently stepped back from both companies I set up and am focusing on my next challenge. Speaking a lot with other music and music technology companies who are building important tools and services for the creative community.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Wake up early for a morning swim followed by coffee and porridge for breakfast.

My current work day varies between interviews, some consultancy work, working on a few projects and a lot of networking. In the afternoon I have another coffee and go for a walk (sometimes with my friend’s dogs) followed by finishing off any other work/interviews.

In the evening, I like to meet up with friends or chill out with my girlfriend, put on some music and cook some tasty food.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

 Yes. I definitely miss the routine of going in and out to an office every day, but I am definitely enjoying the balance that remote working offers. The ideal situation for me is being in the office mostly, but having the flexibility to take a day or two from home if need be.

I think in most areas of business, a level of face to face interaction is essential for productivity, but also it’s very beneficial to be able to remove all distractions and work from home when needed.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I think it has to start with what you want to get out of life. I love to work and know a lot of people do too, but I think it’s easy these days to get sucked into the mindset of working for work’s sake rather than your own.

In terms of work, I know where I want to get to and what I want to achieve. However, I also have many personal goals and travel goals that are just as important as my professional ones.

Focussing on your non-working life is just as important to your career as working is. Building a balance into my lifestyle increases my productivity as well as my eagerness and drive to perform.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I’ve started exercising more regularly and eating healthier. I’m passionate about food, but when working in the office pre-covid, I’d fall into the habit of eating out a lot. I’m loving the act of cooking and the relaxation it gives me. I also have built in a lot more sea swimming into my weeks – less so in the cold weather, but still a good improvement!

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

My favourite two books I read this year were The Ride of a Lifetime, by Bob Iger and Monk’s Guide to Happiness, by Gelong Thubten. Both very different books, but offer up really good business and mindfulness advice.

Bob Iger is the CEO of Disney and he discusses the challenges and stresses he faced (and continues to face) with his role. Gelong Thubten offers a unique perspective on how he became a monk and on how to incorporate meditation into your everyday life.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My record player and records and my Olympus OM-1 camera. Don’t get me wrong, I love my music apps and my Chromecast and my Beats, but there’s nothing like hearing the crackle of one of my vinyls or the click of the shutter on my camera.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

Bob Iger. Although his book covers a lot of his stressful days and talks a little about what he does to take his mind off things, I would love to hear him talk about it directly. I also think it would be interesting getting the perspective of a world leader and how they manage a personal life while having the burden of a whole country rest on their shoulders.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think it’s very easy in the modern world to be “career focussed”. I think this is a great thing, but having experienced burnout before, I advise everyone to understand the difference between being career focussed and overworking yourself.

Life is about living and work is an essential component of that, but if you’re working all the time and it’s taking your energy away from your life outside of work, something needs to change.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.